A report from Peter Love of the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.
A Shrewsbury Rotary club is involved in a unique link up with two Rotary clubs in London to help improve facilities at The Ark which supports homeless and vulnerable people in Shrewsbury.
Four members of the Rotary Clubs of Tower Hamlets and Woodford Green visited for a meet up at The Ark with a similar number of members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.
The special liaison between the three Rotary clubs follows a generous charitable donation from a wrongly convicted subpostmistress and her husband.
A £2,400 gift was made by Rubinna Shaheen who was subpostmistress at Greenfields Post Office in Shrewsbury before she was prosecuted by the Post Office for false accounting and theft.
She was innocent, but wrongly prosecuted, convicted and jailed in 2010.
In April 2021 the Court of Appeal confirmed she was innocent and that it was the Post Office computer system called Horizon to blame. Her conviction was overturned as well as that of many others. This is now known as the ‘Post Office Scandal’ and is the biggest miscarriage of justice in the UK.
Rubinna and her husband Mohammed were homeless and destitute on her release from prison and was helped by the Shrewsbury Ark to get back on her feet.
Last week they were joined by Rotarians for the meeting at The Ark where Emily Bell, chair of trustees, outlined the services, support and background for the purchase of the property just over two years ago with money raised over several years.
She told the visitors that The Ark was now a day centre for 50 homeless and vulnerable people who were provided with a cooked breakfast and lunch.
The Ark was seeing an increase in need from rough sleepers, those in real crisis, others on the borderline of becoming homeless and some whose mental health was declining.
She said the most heavily used area at The Ark was the kitchen which was in need of attention. The washing up area wasn’t adequate and the cooker and dishwasher needed upgrading to commercial standards.
Emily said she would also like to renovate the rear car park which the charity has recently been able to purchase with funding from the Bradbury Charitable Trust and replace the roof above the day centre which also needed urgent attention.
The Rotary clubs have agreed that this would be possible through a process of match funding and a Rotary global grant.
Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has agreed to match fund the £2,400 gift from Rubinna Shaheen and her husband. And in collaboration with the London Rotary clubs will jointly apply for a Rotary global grant which would provide a minimum of £25,000 for equipment and related improvements.
Added Emily: “I am truly grateful for the interest the three Rotary clubs are putting in our organisation. We do need to upgrade our kitchen which is an essential part of our service to the community.”